[October 26, 2016] In the early days of World War II, the Allies had many strategically difficult problems to solve. The most pressing and most dangerous if wrong was how to fight the Germans and Japanese (and the Italians) simultaneously and not be stretched too thinly and thus be defeated by either. In the past 100 years, this was likely the most important decision made.
The result was certainly not perfect and many innocents were killed while that grand strategy was carried out. Eventually, it was resolved that the Allies would concentrate on defeating Hitler’s Nazi Germany while holding as best as possible against the Japanese. Details of the plan, highly classified at the time, was to then shift to defeating Japan. During the development of this Europe First plan it was hotly debated internally within the U.S. and United Kingdom political administrations.
“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” – Henry Ford, American Industrialist
Debate is good but complaining about a problem is not the way of leaders. Senior leaders solve complex and difficult problems. This may seem to be an oversimplification or obvious comment, but we would be surprised how many leaders willingly step away from the difficulties required to solve hard problems by making the necessary decisions. I’ve been personally surprised and dismayed at the number of senior leaders who failed to act when only they had the responsibility to act.
It is interesting when I read about the early days of the Ford Motor Company and how Henry Ford struggled with a number of difficult problems that hampered his company. Mass production was one of Ford’s solutions that allowed him to produce his first large-scale manufactured car, the Model T Ford, so cheaply. Introduced in October 1908, it was so inexpensive, easy to drive, and easy to repair that by the 1920s the majority of American drivers had learned how to drive on the Model T.
My grandmother always told me to “do those things that need doing.” She was talking about solving problems and making hard decisions and doing so depends upon possessing moral courage. Anyone can solve easy problems but when there seems to be no good solution, quality leadership is most effective.
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